You don't have to have your broccoli before your dessert: Surviving the Covid-19 lockdown
Updated: May 5, 2020
1. You don't have to do anything!
We are recently bombarded with the positives of the quarantine- you can finally deep-clean your house, organise your closets and your drawers, delete your old emails and clean your desktop... And after you've done that, you can then begin to enjoy reading books you always wanted to read, pick up a hobby you always considered but never quite had the time...I feel exhausted just writing that!
This is a good time to actually take it easy on yourself, and do the things that you want to do. If this is a three hour nap every day, have a three hour nap every day. You will know if/when this is not something you like doing anymore, and then you can replace it with something else.
2. Try to stay aware of your mood
If you can, try and notice how you feel throughout the day. Don't worry if you can't always find the root of your mood, just notice how you feel for starters. Patterns will start to form the more you notice, and soon it might become easier to understand what each mood might be connected to.
Try and remember, as worrying as it might be to feel upset, angry, or anxious, this feeling too will pass. It probably would just like to be acknowledged, in order to leave you be for a while.
3. Stay aware of how different things and different people make you feel
In other words, just notice how you feel, and this time try and connect it to certain things you are doing. You are scrolling through social media- how do you feel right now? You are listening to music- is this enjoyable? You are reading a book (you actually wanted to do this, or you tried to do it because the internet told you to, either way, what a good opportunity to connect it to how it makes you feel!) You are talking to your friends and your family, or your flatmates - do you generally look forward to doing that, or dreading it?
In the words of Marie Condo, "what sparks joy"?
4. Have some fun, you deserve it!
Now that you might have noticed what activities (yes, including lying down and daydreaming) spark joy, your life already has added value. Of course, there might be things that you used to do outside the house, meeting up with others face-to-face, or alone, that you miss terribly, but there are still things you can do to make you feel happy.
The world is still your oyster, it's just a slightly different oyster.
5. Find the balance between fun and necessity
Finding the things that bring you joy does not mean you should neglect doing certain things that you find terribly boring, but can be necessary, such as household chores and certain admin tasks. However, you can attempt to find the pleasant aspects of these jobs and focus on them. For example, "I will feel so much more comfortable in a clean room", can replace "I will have a terrible time doing these chores".
In addition, you don't have to have your broccoli first in order to then allow yourself your dessert. You don't need to first do the unpleasant tasks in order to "deserve" the pleasant ones. However, only you know how you work best, so if this structure feels best for you, go for it. Equally, if doing something you find more pleasant helps you gain the energy to tackle your chores, this is the method for you.
6. Reach out to people that add real value to your life
Everything covered in the steps above can be applied to human communication, but it is of course a bit more complicated than that, as it involves others. However, the main point is staying, or getting back in touch with, individuals who you enjoy talking to, and you like having in your life. Of course everyone is required to speak to others who we do not always like, but again, staying aware of what it is that you like about certain people and the types of conversation you enjoy can help you choose the types of interactions you want for yourself. This in turn can help you feel less isolated during the pandemic, as well as set the foundation for communication in "normal" every-day life.
7. Reach out to a mental health professional for online sessions
Given that the author is a mental health professional who offers online sessions, it is no surprise that you are reading this. However, let us examine the value of psychotherapeutic sessions: All the suggestions above might or might not be helpful, but they are not targeted at you. The author does not know your specific situation, and therefore cannot speculate on what would be the best course of action for you, either during the pandemic, or in your life in general. It might be helpful to discuss your own thoughts and feelings with someone who is qualified to help you understand yourself and your situation better, and find ways to enhance your overall well-being.
8. Go back to point 1
Feeling overwhelmed from having read this article? You really don't have to do anything. It's ok, it is very weird and scary times we are living through, and you are doing your best.